5 Super Eagles stars who started out with the Golden Eaglets

The defending champions of the cadet event are ready to face the rest of the world in Chile as the tournament kicks off on Saturday 17 October.
All eyes are on which players will emerge as the stars of the World Cup, with Nigeria looking to repeat the feat achieved by Kelechi Iheanacho and co two years ago.

Soccernet Nigeria takes a look at 5 Super Eagles heroes who began their footballing journey with the Golden Eaglets.

Jonathan Akpoborie



Akpoborie was part of the Nigeria team that won the first edition of the FIFA U-16 Championship at China ‘85 scoring in the final against the then West Germany. 

He later featured for the Flying Eagles before making the step up to the senior level where he was selected for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 winning silver.

Kanu Nwankwo



Nigeria’s most celebrated player first made a name for himself at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Japan 1993, as he was instrumental in Nigeria's overall success at the event. The following year he was promoted straight to the National team. 

As a senior, Kanu participated in the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups and later captained the Super Eagles before his retirement in 2010.

Celestine Babayaro



Babayaro was also a member of that Kanu-inspired Golden Eaglets at Japan ’93, playing in every single game.
His talent was evident even then, and he soon made his international debut just two years later.

For the best part of a decade, Babayaro was the Super Eagles’ undisputed full back and was a part of the squad that featured at the Korea/Japan 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Victor Ikpeba



The Golden Eaglets were unceremoniously knocked out of the 1989 FIFA U-17 World Championships by eventual winner, Saudi Arabia, at the quarter final stage. But youngster Victor Ikpeba had done enough to earn a move to Belgian club RFC Liegeois. 

Arsene Wenger then brought him to AS Monaco where he became a star and won the Africa Footballer of the Year Award.
The ‘Prince of Monaco’ appeared for the Super Eagles at the FIFA World Cups in 1994 and 1998.


Benedict Akwuegbu

Another member of that unsuccessful 1989 U-16 World Cup hosted by Scotland is Ben Akwuebgu. Just 14 years old at the time, he never had the chance to play as sat on the bench in all four matches without substitution.

But the lad forged a career for himself at French club RC Lens. He then enjoyed a bright period in Austria where he earned a call up to the Super Eagles for the Africa Nations Cup in 2000. Akwuegbu made good progress and was selected to the 2002 World Cup squad. 
He played the only World Cup game against England.

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